Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Picture Updates

Whew, August is a busy time. Sincere apologies for the lapse in blogging; we will strive to do better. As it is, I only have a hot minute before dashing off to herd the chickens around, so just a few photos to show you what we've been up to.

The garden has really been keeping me hopping. Pounds and pounds of carrots, tomatoes, green beans and squash, all of which must be harvested and preserved. The occasional watermelon to satisfy our sweet teeth. A steady supply of lots more to keep us full and happy. And of course, the inevitable and steady supply of weeds. On weekends I enlist the geese to help with that.

We moved the chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys out to the pasture. We still chase the chickens in at dusk, so they get the message that nighttime is for sleeping inside, and not for being owl/coyote/whatever food outside. Although some of the roosters seem confused as to when nighttime ends...last night one woke me up at 3:00 flat. Not even a hint of daybreak then. Usually they hold out for a slightly more reasonable 5:07.

We currently have the turkey/geese/duck team inside a funny little chicken wire pen in the pasture, with a funny little stack of crates to serve as shelter/hangers. After they learn that this is where food and water are, we will free them to the Pasture at Large.

I had assumed that they would be so baffled and amazed to see that there was An Entire Other THING outside of the tub in the barn they had been brooding in for their entire lives, but this guy actually fell asleep as soon as I placed him in the actual world.

I was worried that he was sick or really shell shocked or something, but after a brief couple minutes of shut eye, he was happily poking about.

Other than that, we've been chugging along, enjoying the sky.

And feeling decidedly odd about some strange fleeting longings for fall and winter that have been flitting through my head...when we get to hunker down and eat soups from our canned garden bounty, and passively watch the world from inside, under a blanket instead of spending sweat and blood out in the thick of it all, moving dirt, water and stones to where we want them, politely disagreeing with where mother nature carelessly strew them about.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pigs on Pasture

After what must have been torturous weeks pining for the acres of green beyond their little pen, the piggos have found the promised land. A land flowing with burdock and goldenrod, where succulent slugs glisten in the sunlight and the market potential for wallow building is unlimited.

Nom nom nom.

I guess I thought that the freed porkers would happily frolic through the entirety of their new 4 acre pasture, perhaps scouting out the perimeter, meeting new neighbors, sampling the greens in each quadrant before settling in to really root about.

Instead, they have more or less used the pasture as a refrigerator. They hang out in front of the TV in their stall, eating cheap calories and sleeping in. Every couple hours they will scoot out for an hour or so of heavy browsing. Then, full and lazy, more Law and Order and mouthfuls of cheez-e corn puffs. Useless teenagers, every last one of them.

They are getting more adventurous, and I'm sure that they will fan out while still using the barn as a home base. Like, you know, college grads. Especially in this economy.

But of course, what they are doing is entirely prudent. The barn is what they know, it is where their food is, and their water is right outside. They are probably too smart for frolicking. Plus, the pasture is basically a jungle, nearly three feet over their heads. We can only tell where they are by how the greens wiggle. No wonder they still like to veg out in familiar territory.

And it is rather remarkable what they have done to their pen. It was the same overgrown pasture as the rest of our land, now empty for everything but burdock (they seem to like only the roots, so it takes a long time for them to kill them) and the larger bushes and trees. The rest is unearthed rocks, and 8 inches of loose, tilled soil.

It is making me fantasize about next years potentially pig-tilled garden.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Surprise! Projects are Generally Unwelcome

One of the harder things about this whole farming thing so far is how many unexpected, unplanned-for misadventures pop up to wreak havoc on our beautifully well-laid plans. We had an extended, Big Man-sized weekend planned, which would have included cleaning out the hayloft, moving everybody into the pasture, and probably some well earned time swimming, deciding where the fruit trees will go, hunting tomatoes in the tomato hedge, and making gem sweaters in preparation for the winter, etc.

Instead, yesterday evening presented us with a disturbingly sick goose, a failing well pump in the barn, and a myriad of car problems to be dealt with ASAP.
We were not happy. There were blisters, and a panicked goose in the sink.The goose (so... I am bad at taking pictures of things I'm pretty sure will die, so there is no photo documentation of this event. If I am feeling devious and driven tomorrow, I will douse a goose in water until sad-looking and fill its lungs with death, and recreate the entire event for your edification) problem I think is mostly solved. A night was well-spent on the plant shelving in the guest room, in a plastic tub on a heating pad, in a little nest made of an old bath towel, and all seems to be well. Full re-integration is expected this weekend, after the goose has spent some timeout in the tamer, less wet turkey pen next to the now pool-equipped duck and goose habitat.

In celebration of the fact that the Half-Drowned Goose survived, the garden gave some exciting harvest. The first melon, the first artichoke.

What is going on with the barn well is a mystery. What is clear is that, after about a quart of water, the pressure plummets, and it takes FORTY-TWO MINUTES to fill up the pig water trough. Caveat to fixing this swiftly: we do not know where the well actually is. Some preliminary exploration has revealed an odd, gigantic piece of metal at the end of a PVC pipe. Is our barn water coming from an ancient underground cistern??? Only time will tell.

Thankfully, we did get a hecuva project done over the past few weekends. The six-strand electric fence to the First Pasture is up, connected, and operational. Now, if everything else will stop shamelessly throwing itself at us , perhaps we will have time to move everything into it.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Things are getting bigger here at TBA Farms. The ducklings are football sized. The garden, helped in a large part by me not knowing that one could or should trim tomato plants, is a now a jungle garden. There are, in fact, snakes in there. Hopefully helpful snakes.
The garden one month ago

The garden now

Artichokes are currently the Most Fun Thing to watch grow.

The pigs are also growing:Except for Stump...more on her in a later post. The Big Man did some measuring of the pigs this weekend in an attempt to figure out their weights. He estimates the Big Pigs at 140 pounds, give or take, which I thought was quite respectable. The Big Man, however, lover of nothing more than a meaty slice of bacon, was unimpressed, so we now have them on a new food plan, wherein they have a constant supply of grain.
And soon (in a week!?) they will have FOUR WHOLE ACRES to roam. And eat. The fence building is going well -- we have all the posts in, and one of the six wires all hooked up.
Tensioning the wire is really difficult work, so it's a good thing that the Big Man's guns have also been growing.
I swear, he wasn't posing at all. This is just how tensioning the wire looks.